Saturday, June 15, 2013

Apple Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream Icing

I recently joined Pinterest and discovered what a great tool it is for saving off those pictures of things to do, see, make, and taste in a convenient place for later retrieval. I came across a recipe on Pinterest for Salted Caramel Sauce, which I decided to give a try. I was a little skeptical at first as the salted caramel recipe has you heating up just plain sugar until it melts and turns dark amber after which you add butter and cream. Well, let me tell you, the caramel came out amazing.....the best I've ever tasted. Just be sure to closely watch the sugar as it goes from clear to dark amber quite rapidly. UPDATE: I have made the caramel sauce a couple times since and have experienced a problem with the sugars clumping up and not combining with the butter. The recipe has you turning off the burner then adding the butter. I found that it works better if you add the butter with the burner still on, whisking until the butter is incorporated into the sugar, then turn the burner off and add the cream.

After making the salted caramel sauce, I found this yummy looking recipe for Apple Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream. I made the cupcakes from this recipe, but since I happened to have some salted caramel sauce on hand already, I decided to slightly alter the buttercream recipe to use my salted caramel sauce.

Salted Caramel Buttercream
Adapted from Baked Perfection

1/2 cup sugar
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
4 large egg whites, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup Salted Caramel Sauce + some for drizzling over cupcakes

Beat butter with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

Place whites and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a heatproof mixer bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture registers 160 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat, and attach bowl to a mixer. Whisk on medium speed for 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high, and whisk until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 6 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, and add beaten butter, cup at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in vanilla. Switch to paddle attachment. With mixer on low speed, add caramel, and beat until smooth, 3 to 5 minutes.

After the cupcakes cool, simply pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes and drizzle some salted caramel sauce over the top.....for a creamy, salted caramel bit of heaven!

I did happen to notice that not all baking cups are created equal. The cheaper ones are not grease-proof and don't look so pretty after baking. I will definitely need to invest in some higher quality, grease-proof baking liners in the future.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Czech Kolaches

Greetings fellow bloggers. Again, it has been too long since I have posted here. We have been so busy these past few months with my oldest son graduating from College, my youngest starting college, the holidays, and hosting an exchange student, Lukáš, from the Czech Republic. If you ever have an opportunity to host an exchange student, I highly recommend it. It is so rewarding. It is great fun seeing things new through his eyes, and at the same time, we learn so much from him about his culture, family, and country. Last year we hosted, Luís, from Brazil for several months and again it was so much fun. We continue to keep in touch with him and hope to visit him in Brazil one of these days.

Lukáš' family has shared several recipes with us including his grandmother's kolache recipe. These, my friends, are to die for! Now I've had kolaches from "The Czech Bakery" in West, Texas before, and I found them to be quite delicious, but I have to say, Lukáš' grandmother's kolache recipe is the best I have tasted.


Lukáš' Grandmother's Kolaches

4 Cups all-purpose flour
1 Package(2¼ tsp) dry yeast
3½ Tbsp sugar
⅓ Cup + 1 Tbsp Mayonnaise
⅓ Cup + 1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 egg yolk
1 cup milk
Grated Lemon peel
½ Tsp Salt
egg whites to brush over the top (optional)

1 Pint Cottage Cheese
3 oz Cream Cheese
1 Egg Yolk
½ Tsp Vanilla
Grated Lemon Peel
½ Cup Powdered Sugar

Crumb Topping
½ Cup Butter
½ Cup Flour
½ Cup Powdered Sugar

Jam, preserves, or Jelly of choice

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).

To make the dough, add dough ingredients to bread maker in order recommended by the bread maker manufacturer. Use grated lemon peel for ½ of the lemon in the dough. Reserve the other half for the filling. Set the bread maker on the dough cycle and start it.

About a half hour before the dough completes, I start making the filling and toppings.

To make the filling, the Czech recipe actually specified curds with no cream cheese, but I had a difficult time finding them in the grocery store. I tried using cottage cheese, as is, the first time and the filling came out way too wet. The next time I made these I found it worked out better to put the cottage cheese in a fine strainer and run water over it to rinse the milk off from the curds and mix this with 3 oz of cream cheese with a mixer. Then add the rest of the filling ingredients including the grated lemon peel from the other half of the lemon. Mix until well blended. Set aside.

To make the topping, use a fork to blend the flour with the powdered sugar, then cut in the butter until crumbly. Add more flour or sugar if too moist. Set Aside.

When the dough cycle completes, you can begin assembling the kolaches as follows: Cut off a bit of dough, the amount you would use for some large rolls (I would guess about 2½ Tbsp). Roll it out till about ¼" thick. Spoon almost 1 Tbsp of filling in the center of the rolled out dough, then fold the sides up around the filling and pinch to seal. I place them in the pan with the pinched side facing down, but Lukáš' grandmother usually puts them in the pan with the pinched side facing up. If you put it face down like I do, you will need to poke a fork in the top several times to prevent it from bubbling up when baking. With your fingers, press an indentation in the top of the kolache as shown in these pictures.

If desired, brush some egg whites over the top. Spoon some of the jam into the indentation. The ones shown in my pictures have apricot and seedless raspberry jam. Try not to overfill as I tend to do or it will run down the sides. Sprinkle the topping over the tops of the kolaches then bake about 20-25 minutes. Keep an eye on them as they bake. If they start to bubble up, poke them with a fork. They should have a nice golden color when they are done. This recipe makes about 12-14 Kolaches depending on how big you make them.

Many thanks to Lukáš' family for sharing this recipe, and many thanks to Lukáš for translating it for us ☺




Enjoy!! Have a great week!

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Greetings fellow bloggers. It has been awhile since I have posted here. I have been extremely busy at work and not much time to spend on my photography....although I did manage to stop by an entire field of Queen Anne's lace recently and snap some images of these lovely flowers. Queen Anne's Lace is one of my favorite wildflowers; it has so many intriguing stages, from a delicate little pink flower, to a lacy white umbrella, to an intricately folded seed head. The following are some images I captured while basking in their presence...



Natural Lace


Turning to Seed

Amongst the Lace

Sharing this over at Beyond Layers, Flower Art Friday, and Photo Art Friday

I processed these images using a combination of Kim Klassen Textures, Flypaper Textures, French Kiss Brushes, as well as some techniques learned in my Beyond Layers Class.

I hope to have some time this weekend to visit your lovely blogs and see what I have been missing! :-)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Floral Whispers

These are Blue Muscari flowers, also known as Grape appropriate name. I am loving the soft spring pastels right now.

Grape Hyacinth
Processed using Florabella Champagne @ 77% Soft Light.

Muscari Whispers
Processed using Kim Klassen's "Happy Heart" Texture, converted to grey scale and inverted.

Dreamy Blossom
Processed using Florabella Allure @ 91% Soft Light.

I wanted to let you know that I finally finished my Adobe Lightroom Review. Click the "Photography Product Reviws" link at the top of the page to check it out. Over the next couple of weeks I will be sharing some Lightroom tips and tricks over here so please come back. Well, that is all for now. Have a Happy Texture Tuesday!

Sharing this over at Texture Tuesday

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Study in White

The theme over at Texture Tuesday this week is "The White Edition". I have been working on several images with a white theme...more flowers...hope I don't bore you too much with all of the flower images, but I just love working on them. Here are a few of them; some with actions applied, and all with different textures applied.

Processed using a CoffeeShop action, then added Kim Klassen's kk_plastersquared texture @ 35% multiply.

White Aster Flowers
Processed using Kim Klassen's kkPortrait texture, which I converted to greyscale and added @ 100% soft light.

Processed using my Cocoa Linen Texture converted to greyscale and added @ 70% soft light.

Processed using a CoffeeShop action, then adding Florabella Champagne {warm} @ 26% multiply.

Processed using Florabella Patina {b&w} @ 22% soft light.

Sharing this over at Texture Tuesday and The Creative Exchange

I am still working on my Lightroom review. Sorry for the delay...been real busy lately. Well that is all for now. Have a great rest of the week! :-)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

White Muscari

Hi! I wanted to pop in to share a couple of pictures with you. I fully intended to create a post on Valentine's Day, but I have just been so busy. I found this lovely little flower pot bursting full of White Muscari bulbs at my local grocery store and well....I just couldn't resist. Finding these little gems is such a great inspiration to me during these grey, colorless days of winter. I have been finding much amusement in watching the way these flowers open up; starting first with pops of green at the top of the flowers...then as they expand out, the pops of green slowly turn to white.

I have been playing around in Adobe Lightroom, learning all of the panels. The power of this tool is truely amazing! In this first image I was going for a surreal look....I really wanted the pops of green at the tops of the flowers to stand out. The second two images were only tweaked in Lightroom a tad to adjust the white balance.

White Muscari
Processed using a French Kiss texture and also a couple of French Kiss brushes to add the scripting

A flower pot of White Muscari
Processed this one using a lovely French Kiss texture

Muscari Forest
Processed using Kim Klassen's Cherish Texture along with a gradient mask

Sharing this post over at This or That Thursday and Texture Thursday

Well that is all for now. I will soon be adding my review of Adobe Lightroom under my new Photography Product Reviews tab so please check back soon! :-)

Keep warm out there :-)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

I love to bake, and I most definitely have a sweet tooth. One of my favorite things to bake is muffins....chocolate chip muffins, blueberry muffins, and these apple cinnamon muffins are my favorites. As I have been working on my still life photography lately, I thought I would snap a few shots as I made this last batch and share them here on my blog. Scroll down for the recipe :-)


Cinnamon Apple Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon all-spice
2 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 Granny Smith Apples, cored, peeled, and coarsely chopped
Approximately 14 standard paper baking cups
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line muffin pan with paper or foil baking cups.

To make muffins, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and all-spice in a medium bowl until blended. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, buttermilk, and vanilla until blended. Add the dry ingredients to the buttermilk mixture and stir just until evenly moistened. The batter should be slightly lumpy. Fold the apples into the batter and mix just until evenly distributed. Do over-do-it with the stirring.

To make topping, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons four and 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon in a small bowl. cut in 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. If desired, stir in the pecans or walnuts.

Spoon the batter into each muffin cup, filling it level with the rim. Sprinkle topping over the muffins.

Bake in preheated oven for approximately 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.




Sharing this post over at The Creative Exchange, Favourite Photo Monday and Show off your Shot

Enjoy!! Have a great start of the week!